Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The Medicare program is a national health insurance system that currently serves more than 40 million beneficiaries and provides more than $330 million in health care benefits. Participation in the Medicare program is dependent on whether individuals are age 65 or older, have selected disabilities, or have end stage renal disease (ESRD). The majority (about 85 percent) of the Medicare population is aged, while approximately 14 percent of beneficiaries are disabled. The remaining Medicare population (less than 1 percent) is eligible for Medicare benefits because of ESRD. The Medicare program is the largest health insurer in the United States; it is a crucial element in ensuring health care to some of the most vulnerable populations. The Medicare program actually finds its roots in the Social Security program. Though the original Social Security Act was enacted in 1935, this program to provide minimal income security through social insurance included no provision ...